Google celebrated its 20th birthday last month, and in honour of the colossus of web crawling, here are 20 facts you might not have known about the biggest search engine in the world.
1. Google’s founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, conceived the idea of a search engine for the web as part of a PhD research project at Stanford University in 1995, but the search engine’s official date of birth is 27 September, 1998 – the date when the Google webpage first launched.
2. Google was initially called Backrub, presumably due to the process of retrieving backlinks that is involved in web searching.
3. Brin and Page ultimately settled on Google as the name of their search engine – a deliberate misspelling of the mathematical term “googol”, that describes the amount represented by the numeral one, followed by 100 zeros. The name denoted the almost infinite amount of data that its creators envisioned the search engine would sift through to yield optimum results for its users.
4. The Google homepage initially looked like this, but in more recent times, the “I’m feeling lucky” button was removed, as its autocomplete feature refined searches and rendered it obsolete. This move saved Google the roughly $110,000,000 it used to spend annually on bypassing ads to automatically go to the first search result.
5. According to Internet Live Stats, Google processes over 40,000 search requests every second, amounting to more than 3.5 billion searches every day. For a visual representation of that statistic, click here.
6. When searching for new employees, Google sometimes recruits programmers and developers based on their search history. The company does this by using a web tool called foo.bar, which picks up specific searches related to coding and software development, and then presents users with an online challenge which sometimes leads to them securing a job with the search giant.
7. Ever wanted to get a glimpse of everything you’ve ever searched on Google? You can download your entire search history – prepare to cringe!
8. Google processes immense amounts of data, and launched Google Trends to analyse the popularity of Google’s top search queries across a range of regions and languages.
9. A recent report by Reviews.org used Google Trends data to determine the “indulgent” topics that people in 112 countries are likely to search for. South Africa was revealed to have the highest search volume for the term “sugar daddy sites”.
10. The first Google doodle was a Burning Man stick figure, added to the Google logo to alert users that Page and Brin would be out of office. That was in August 1998, and if you’d like, you can have a look at all the Google doodles made since then.
11. Initially only offered in English, Google now has a myriad of language preference options. Some of the more obscure options include Swedish Chef lingo (also called Bork Bork Bork), Pirate, Klingon, Elmer Fudd, Pig Latin and Hacker. If you’re looking for a laugh and would like to play around with the language options, here’s how.
12. Google’s reverse image search allows users to search images and determine their source of origin.
13. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, and Google has devised a clever way to entertain users when they use certain search terms. These are known as Google Easter eggs. One popular Google Easter Egg pops up when you use the search term “askew”.
14. Google “do a barrel roll” to enjoy another of Google’s little tricks. For a full list of Google Easter eggs, click here.
15. The world’s most popular webmail product, Gmail, was launched on 1 April 2004 by means of an unusually-worded announcement. Widely believed to be an April Fool’s hoax of some sort, it turned out that the joke was on the doubters.
16. To “Google” something has become a widely used verb across the globe, but the first instance of the word being used on television to denote an action was during an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, aired on 15 October 2002.
17. At the time of Google’s initial public offering on the stock exchange, it was valued as much as General Motors – $27 billion, made up of 19,605,052 shares, each sold for $85.
18. Corporate restructuring in 2015 led to the establishment of Alphabet Inc., a multinational conglomerate that now functions as the parent company of Google and a number of former Google subsidiaries.
19. The current value of Alphabet Inc. is estimated at about $739 billion.
20. Despite it being the most visited website in the world, Google is probably the only website which aims to reduce the time its users spend on the site.